Astronomers have measured the two most enormous supermassive black holes found so far, vast realms of titanic gravity large enough to swallow 10 of our solar systems. The black holes are much bigger than predicted, suggesting extra-large galaxies and their black holes grow and evolve differently than smaller ones.
A nearby galaxy that looks like a smiley face harbors a dark secret: It has twin supermassive black holes, not just one. This rare find could shed light on what happens when ginormous galaxies collide.
By Gregory MonePosted 11.12.2007 at 3:37 pm 0 Comments
For decades scientists have been speculating about the origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays, the incredibly powerful charged particles that travel across the cosmos, then set off a series of reactions as they smash through Earth's atmosphere. They're extremely rare, showing up only once per century for a given square mile.
Now astrophysicsts using the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina, which has detectors spread across 1,200 square miles, recently reported that they traced the rays back to their source. It appears likely that cosmic rays are born within active galactic nuclei. These galaxies, which have massive black holes at their centers, are busily churning up stars, gas and dust, generating hugely energetic reactions. The ultra-high energy rays are just one of the products. The work is published in the latest issue of the journal Science.—Gregory Mone